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Thoma Bravo Reportedly Eyeing McAfee Acquisition

Merger rumor

Intel and TPG Capital might be looking to sell McAfee to private equity firm Thoma Bravo, which last month reportedly approached Symantec about buying that company.

Thoma Bravo is in early talks to buy McAfee from TPG and Intel, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. McAfee and Intel declined comment, and Thoma Bravo couldn’t be reached for comment.

Michael Finneran

Michael Finneran

Intel paid $7.7 billion for McAfee in 2011 and last year completed the sale of a 51 percent stake in the company to TPG.

Channel Partners contributor Michael Finneran, of dBrn Associates, tells Channel Partners that “as security is outside of their primary area, I wonder why Intel bought them in the first place.”

Last month, Symantec’s stock spiked after reports that Thoma Bravo had approached the cybersecurity giant to express interest in acquiring it. It’s unclear whether Thoma Bravo remains interested in acquiring Symantec.

Eric Parizo, senior analyst of enterprise security with GlobalData, said McAfee’s primary stakeholders, Intel and TPG, have “pressured it to cut costs following its acquisition of Skyhigh Networks.

GlobalData's Eric Parizo

GlobalData’s Eric Parizo

“In turn, that has led to at least two rounds of layoffs in the past year, as well as cutbacks to R&D and marketing in other non-core product lines, such as IPS and non-cloud DLP,” he said.

A Thoma Bravo acquisition would be “good for McAfee, and its customers and partners because Thoma Bravo is more apt to see McAfee’s long-term potential, and would be more tolerant of a strategy that focused less on short-term profitability, which would accelerate McAfee’s overall product portfolio modernization efforts.”

Tony Massimini, senior industry analyst, information and network security at Frost & Sullivan, said Intel hasn’t done much with McAfee through the years so it made sense to spin it back out and recoup its original investment. TPG is a longtime investor in high tech, so it’s likely looking for a return on its investment, he said.

Keep up with the latest channel-impacting mergers and acquisitions in our M&A roundup.

“McAfee was spun out and … is a very fast-growing and aggressive company,” he said. “McAfee looks very attractive in terms of the kind of growth they’ve had, which is attributable to its leadership, CEO Chris Young and all the people under him.”

Thoma Bravo’s portfolio includes Barracuda Networks, whose portfolio complements McAfee’s, Massimini said. It remains to be seen whether Thoma Bravo would combine the two companies or leave them the way they are, he said.

“This is certainly indicative of Thoma Bravo’s strategy to look for more companies in cybersecurity,” he said. “They understand the growth in that.”

At McAfee’s MPower Security Summit in October, Young said his company has realized its vision of going big in cloud and becoming cloud-native with its SkyHigh acquisition and its Mvision product portfolio.


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